Categorised | Big Brother, Civil Liberties, General, Labour, Lib Dems |

Jacqui Smith wants your DNA, innocent or guilty

The Home Office has outlined a series of proposals in relation to the DNA database designed to counter the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that it was illegal. However, in doing so, they have demonstrated utter contempt for the ruling, choosing instead to go for a fudge. If these proposals are put into force, it will inevitably lead to further legal challenges in the European Court by Human Rights campaigners.

The Home Office consultation proposes the following:

  • Destroying all original DNA samples, like mouth swabs, as soon as they are converted into a digital database profile
  • Automatically deleting after 12 years the profiles of those arrested but not convicted of a serious violent or sexual crime
  • Automatically deleting after six years the profiles of anyone arrested but not convicted of other offences
  • Retaining indefinitely the DNA profiles and fingerprints of anyone convicted of a recordable offence
  • Remove the profiles of young people arrested but not convicted, or convicted of less serious offences, when they turn 18

The bottom line, is that even in Big Brother Britain, you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. It is, therefore, unreasonable in the extreme for DNA samples to be retained where individuals have been arrested, but not convicted, or arrested but not even charged. By retaining the samples, the Home Office is suggesting, by implication, that the individual may commit an offence in the future. Under these proposals, if the Home Office want to increase the size of the database, all they have to do is encourage the Police to arrest more people, the Police will then be entitled to take, record and retain a DNA sample.  How long before the Police are targeted on the taking of DNA samples?

Clearly DNA evidence can be very useful in solving crimes. However, this must be weighed against the infringement on the civil liberties of the majority. We are all entitled to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. We must not permit the state to use this ‘back door’ method of arrest without charge to increase the size of the DNA database.  It is also worth noting that the Home Office is proposing that DNA samples be retained indefinitely for what is termed a recordable offence. But these offences can vary from the public order offence of failing to give notice of a procession and, for example, drunkeness, public order, begging  right through to having a bladed weapon or crossbow in public.  In fact, making a hoax 999 call or falsely claiming a professional qualification are all recordable crimes. How can such a broad range of offences brought under the innocuously sounding term ‘recordable offence’ be considered proportionate, especially given any of these offences would mean that your DNA is on file for life under the current proposals.

Whatever your view on Big Brother Britain and the DNA database, we must all remind ourselves, that in 12 years, this government has introduced 3,607 new laws, in other words, a month doesn’t go by without there bing new laws that we are supposed to know and not infringe. If this continues, it is only a matter of time before we all find ourselves on the national DNA database. No government in the world has considered it necessary or desirable to have so many of their citizens recorded on a DNA database. In fact the UK has the largest database in the world, now ask yourself this, do we all feel safer, do we have a higher detection and conviction rate when compared to comparable countries? NO! Because if we did, you can be certain that the Home Office would have told us.

We must say no to this massive intrusion into our everyday lives.


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4 Comments For This Post

  1. CJ Says:

    Excellent post. Sorry this comment is long, but there’s a whole raft of issues here that make me mad as hell…

    I would have far less objection (although I would still object) to this extreme invasion of privacy if they had a f***ing clue what to do with the information once they have it.

    In the UK it’s a very complicated combination of FAR too many stupid laws (as you point out) that leave decent citizens vulnerable, mixed with the abject failure of the intelligence agencies and downright useless detection principles that mean we have one of the lowest detection rates anywhere.

    However, I have to admit that, in my opinion, the only value provided by a high detection rate is its preventative worth, since, at ONE time, the police were out there and all about just that – CRIME PREVENTION. Not anymore, though. Now they sit in their fortified stations filling out endless pointless forms, or speed past in their cars and then chase their tails in an attempt to catch criminals AFTER someone has been murdered, burgled, raped, defrauded, whatever, which is a bit late for the victim.

    Innocent until proven guilty means NOTHING anymore. We are ALL presumed guilty, or “probably” guilty by the police – often until WE prove ourselves innocent. Real crooks, terrorists and the like, of course, will simply slip through the myriad of loopholes left by bad legislation, inappropriate EU law, the PC brigade and endless other opportunities handed to them on a plate by inept politicians and a jaded police force.

    It’s not even THIS current mob we have to worry most about – what happens when this (as it surely WILL be) is the thin end of the wedge and some future government decides that assemblies of more than one or two people is a serious “recordable” crime? Or perhaps it will be a crime to SEEM to be anti government! We already have laws on “thought crimes” coming close to being passed, as you have previously pointed out.

    When it comes to government sponsored information gathering and broad criminal legislation there is only ONE rule that we can all absolutely guarantee will apply: if it CAN be abused, then it WILL be abused – if not by this government, then by a future one, or by criminals who will gain access to poorly secured data!

    We would do well to remember that almost all legislation only affects the basically law abiding population – terrorists and other criminals usually have access to equipment, knowledge and abilities that are FAR superior to our government departments and they are often outside the system in the first place. Often they are not even recorded or in any way controlled or sanctioned like normal people … eg: what does a criminal care if you snatch his car and crush it for some misdemeanour? He’ll just go and steal another one and it won’t have HIS name against it either – you can be sure of that! Joe Public, on the other hand, who simply forgot to tax his vehicle when the DVLA failed to send him the promised reminder, will be devastated.

  2. Frustrated Voter Says:

    @ CJ: Your final paragraph sums it up very well. Most laws target people that are, for the most part, law abiding, it seems to fail miserably when it comes to serious crimes. Just look at all the so called ‘gangsters’ that don’t have as much as a parking ticket. Even when they are prosecuted, the government fails miserably to re-claim their ill-gotten gains.

    I do not trust this government or future governments with this level of information. They already intend to use the Onset profiling tool to determine which of our children ‘may’ become criminals in the future. How long until they use DNA to find out if their is a pattern to criminal behavior within our DNA make-up. It is simply too much power. Added to which, people are so convinced that DNA is infallible, well perhaps the technology is, but cross-contamination and the placing of evidence could be easily carried out. We must never assume that the authorities and those responsible for policing would not abuse the system, it has happened time and time again in the past.

    If I were in charge of the police and wanted to prevent crime, rather than detect crime (as you have suggested), I would sell every single panda car and just leave them with a few ‘area cars’ and traffic cars for emergencies. With 150,000 police officers, doing their jobs, on the streets, there will always be one near enough to serve a summons and conduct arrests. Better still if they do their jobs effectively, there would be far fewer summons, far fewer arrests and less need for a DNA database to “detect” crimes. Still, that suggestion is far too obvious for our politicians to take seriously, better to have officers filling in forms, which are then entered into a massive database, which becomes so large, it starts to resemble searching for a needle in a haystack. God help us all!

  3. Denny Says:

    Hi,

    I wrote a piece about this on Police State UK which you might be interested in reading: http://policestate.co.uk/articles/17

    Regards,
    Denny

  4. Frustrated Voter Says:

    @ Denny: I have read your article and agree entirely. The problem is our police force has allowed itself to become a tool of the state, as such, those that claim we are in a Police State are can no longer be considered a “loony” or “reactionary”. A friend of mine was recently arrested. He has been an honest citizen for his entire 46 years. Yet, he was arrested, had his DNA and fingerprints taken, questioned under caution and it subsequently transpired that it was a case of mistaken identity. He was shocked by his treatment and to be honest, so was I, especially as I know his character. But, there was no apology, no explanation…instead, he can be assured that his DNA and fingerprints will remain on file for the rest of his life, or perhaps, under the latest guidelines, for up to 12 years. Little wonder the police are losing the respect of the public.

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